Screenwriting Tips for Submission Season

HelpfulTipsLast week I shared a list of the 10 prominent screenwriting contests and their approaching deadlines to give you a heads up of what to expect the next few months.  Hopefully, you’re not like me, in the middle of a major rewrite instead of just a polish.

Ah, the sweet agony of a deadline.

This week I thought I would share a few tips on how to be best prepared to submit.  I’m not sure where I originally found this checklist – my apologies to whoever created it.  It’s a list of 10 things to look over/be aware of before you hit send.

  1. Opening image
  2. Opening line
  3. First scene’s setting
  4. Genre/Tone
  5. Character roles
  6. Character motivations
  7. Structure
  8. Scene focus
  9. Spelling/Grammar
  10. Concept/Logline

*If you’re interested, I can expand on each of these in more detail.  Just let me know in the comments below.

One of my favorite pieces of advice came from Good in a Room‘s Stephanie Palmer who suggests –

Choose a contest and a deadline. Then, submit at least one script to one of the top screenwriting contests I recommend.

If the script gets recognized in any way (i.e., it doesn’t win but it makes the second round, or top 10%, etc), revise it and submit to three different contests.

If the script doesn’t get recognized, then keep it in your library of projects, pick something new from your development slate, and write something else.

Instead of submitting multiple projects to several contests (which can get expensive), you only make multiple submissions when you have objective evidence that your work is good enough to have a chance to win, and you spend more of your valuable time writing new material.

That’s plenty of work, I know.

And it doesn’t take into account the other aspects of how to be a professional writer that have nothing to do with writing…

But over time, if you write and submit at least one script every year to one of the best contests, you will get better and your material will get better. If you submit multiple scripts only when they have received positive feedback, your chances of being successful go up.

I hope you find this helpful, and I wish you all the best this submission season!

Writing Prompt #100

On Wednesdays, I like to share images or phrases that hopefully inspire you to create something new or, by some chance, add to a work of yours in progress.  Sometimes I look for something that speaks to me in regards to what I’m working on, but the purpose of the the prompts are to help us break from routine.

I write flash fiction pieces from them, but my Dragon Age fanfiction “problem” began with a writing prompt as well, so be forewarned that I take no responsibility for what path these may lead you on. 😉  Create at your own risk.

magicball

Happy Writing!

 

Quote Monday

It’s time to get back to routine, and as most of you probably remember, I used to enjoy my routine.  It’s a bit of a vague memory at the moment. 😉

On Mondays I like to share inspiring quotes – something to start the week off right.  I like this one:

situationelevation

Keep working towards your dreams!

It’s Submission Season!

submitHey fellow screenwriters!  Are you ready for another year of petrifying “submit” clicks?  Yep, it’s that most wonderful time of the year, again.

If you haven’t done the search for what deadlines are approaching, let me share what I’ve learned.  Here are 10 of the more prominent competitions:

The one I think all screenwriters dream of winning is the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship, which is for features only.  The early deadline is March 7 ($45).  I’d also recommend following them on Facebook as they share reader comments throughout the competition.  It’s always fun to wonder if that lovely review is about your work.

The Austin Film Festival is also garnering a reputation for its screenwriting competition in both feature (with the added perk of being genre specific) and teleplay (including specs) categories.  The early deadline is March 31 ($45).  You can follow them on Twitter.

PAGE International is already open and the regular deadline is fast approaching – February 17 ($49).  This is for features only, but they’ve also branched out into being genre specific as well.  They’re on both Facebook and Twitter if you’re interested in keeping up with the latest.

I entered my pilot in Scriptapalooza‘s TV competition, which reopens April 15, but the feature category, again, has been accepting since the beginning of the year.  The regular deadline is March 10 ($55).  You can follow them on both Facebook and Twitter, but they also have a mailing list that will keep you current.

I may have entered my pilot into this one, it’s all sort of a blur at the moment, so I have to double check.  How terrible is that?!  Script Pipeline offers a number of competitions to choose from, such as their First Look and Great Idea (both TV and feature) contests, in addition to the TV and feature competitions – which share the same date and fee for their early entry, March 1 ($50).  They also have a mailing list and are on all social media.

Finish Line is another competition that offers both feature and TV categories, and has received positive endorsement from the film community.  Their early deadline is, again, fast approaching – February 17 ($40), but if you’re like me, procrastinating on that final polish/rewrite, a more “reasonable” regular deadline is April 28 ($45).  You can follow them on Twitter.

Screencraft not only offers valuable information via their blog, they have a wonderful setup in their competition department – it’s genre specific!  The deadlines are scattered throughout the year, so I would highly recommend joining the mailing list to stay up to date.  Currently they are accepting submissions for Sci-fi and Fantasy features.  Early deadline is February 16 ($39).  They’re on all social media as well.

Final Draft just announced that they’ll be ready to accept submissions for 2017’s Big Break starting February 22.  They have both feature and TV categories, but the entry fee section has not been updated on their site yet (early fee last year was $40).  And of course, they’re on all social media too.

BlueCat is another site I recommend following for their useful advice via their blog, in addition to their newsletter and social media accounts.  Their competition is open for features, shorts, TV, and plays.  The early deadline is March 1 and fees vary depending on the entry. Features – $45  Shorts – $35  Pilots – $40  Plays – $30

Finally, there is the Sundance Institute‘s Screenwriters Lab which is not open yet for submissions for 2018, but if you have a script that is Sundance Film Festival material, get it ready!  Last year the application period was from March 15 – May 3.  I would love to take part in the Lab, but sadly, I don’t think any of my material is small budget. 😉

So get those screenplays “submission season ready” and let’s go after our dreams!  Happy Writing!

I’m Back!

alive

Hello!  Hi!  How are you?

It may have appeared that I fell off the face of the earth, and in a few aspects that was true, but I’m back and feeling like my old self again.

For those of you who stuck around, “Thank You!”  And for you new followers, “Welcome!”  I’m thrilled you found me during my absence.

Back in December I decided to share my personal struggle with chronic pain and the subsequent side effects from medication.  The drugs completely altered me.  Yes, eventually they helped curb the pain I suffer from, but I did not like who I had become while on them.  I was moody in the extreme and I barely wrote a word – a handful of posts and nothing of my own.  And I didn’t even feel bad about not writing, which is really not me.

So, I’ve gone off them.  The cons far outweighed the pros.  In the span of one day, I was back to writing and already felt the depression, anger, and lethargy subside.  It was like flicking a switch –

Amidst a new work schedule (my shifts at the job I was resenting changed, and I’ve started to make better money which has relieved the enormous burden of financial instability) I’ve written about 7,000 words.  Welcome back creativity, my old friend!  Bye bye dry spell!

I also read a book, finished a video game, watched a movie, and organized my house and my life (I have like three “to do” lists).  This may not sound like an accomplishment, but I did almost none of this the past three months (which is why I now have three “to do” lists).

And then, to top it all off, I got the amazing news that my TV pilot was advancing in one of the competitions I entered.  YAY!  That was the boost I desperately needed.

freshvoices-copy

 

I was going to do a post about looking back, but there’s so much to look forward to!  I’ve set new goals and resolutions, and now, feeling like I’ve lost three months of my life, I’m ready to get back on track and not waste any more time.

Watch out, world!  😉

I hope you’ve all been well and are still reaching for your dreams!  Happy Writing!  xx, Rach

A Couple of Thoughts On This Week

A couple of days ago I awoke to the news of Carrie Fisher’s passing.  Another beloved icon gone too soon – and you know in this Star Wars house this was a deep-felt loss.  And then, as if to add insult to injury, my email contained a message that my pilot would not be advancing in one of the contests I had submitted it to.

The feedback was, at least, somewhat encouraging:

The Demeter is set in an interesting world with a couple of well-drawn characters in Wyeth and Sadie. Actually, the voice of Zeta as a less obnoxious Siri is also a nice character. On the page, the script looks good, without blocky description or dialogue passages and is error-free (a rarity!). The biggest question at this point is probably trying to determine what the story will be about in future episodes. Will the entire series be about their attempt to return to earth? Some hint of where the series will go could add a lot to the overall value of the pilot.

It was one of those days that made me want to both crawl into bed and take the world by storm.

I did neither.

I chose to lose myself in my happy place – Dragon Age land.  A few hours achieving measurable goals with my dogs snuggled around me was comforting, but I’m still just sad.

Maybe the sadness is exacerbated by the fact that I am so far from where I want to be.  I resent my job and without just the teeniest bit of encouragement on the screenwriting front, I just feel as if I’m never going to leave my own mark.

Yes, I know this sounds a tad vain, but it’s my dream to have my writing immortalized via the silver screen.  Let’s be honest, we don’t follow the artist’s path to fade into obscurity, we want to be remembered.  Plain and simple.

The passing of yet another childhood favorite has only reiterated how precious our time is.  We have to make the most of the time given to us and continue to strive towards our goals, no matter where on the ladder towards that dream we find ourselves.

feel-good-2

Wishing you all the very best as we come to the end of another year!  Let’s start planning for a productive and successful new year!

*Thank you for being a part of our lives, Rebel Princess.  May the Force be with you!

Memoir Post

Writing-Clip-ArtA year from now, with my memory, I probably won’t remember what’s been going on these past couple of months.  I’ve been considering whether or not to share my personal happenings, but as this is also my (some times) journal of what’s going on in my life, and because others may be able to empathize, I’ve decided to make note of it.

I suffer from chronic pain.  Insurance being what it is here in The States, I’ve just lived with it.  Until a couple of months ago.  I went to the doctor and discussed my options, and before surgery, which would be a last resort, I’m now on daily medication.  Evidently there are some side effects, to which I am now enduring almost all of…I’m not sure which is worse.

A few of the zingers: fatigue, lethargy, and depression.  It also seems to be exacerbating any negative feelings I may have, which thanks to the depression, are many.  I’m not writing.  I’m not reading.  I’m not gaming.  I’m barely watching T.V.  What am I doing with my time?!

I have another month to allow the medication to get into my system, and I’m really hoping this is all worth it or The Sis will probably do me harm.

As I like to keep this space positive, I’ve remained silent, but I didn’t want you to think I was ignoring you.  I wanted to say – Hi-SmileyEmoticon

and Happy Holidays!  Hopefully in a few more weeks I’ll be feeling more like my old self again, and just in time for tackling a new year!

Wishing you all the best, my friends!

xx, Rach

Writing Prompt #99

So a few days ago, I (finally) shared the work of fellow bloggers who took up the Writing Prompt Challenge.  If you haven’t had a chance to read them yet, click here.

For this week’s Writing Prompt, I was drawn to this image.

ceremony

Are you inspired?

Come write with me!

Quote of the Week

Fear can have a powerful sway on our ability to do something.  I sometimes let fear have too much of a voice in my own life, and I don’t want to look back on my life and regret those things I wanted to do and didn’t because I was afraid of the outcome.

I may write about reincarnation, but in this life, we need to make it count!  That’s why I really want to make this week’s quote a part of my daily thought process.

adventurequote

Best wishes, my friends!  And let’s be brave!